City Voices have had many guest speakers and poets/writers who have kindly given their time and talent for the benefit of the group, but securing Jean Atkin for two hours last Saturday (courtesy of Poetry on Loan) was certainly a coup. Jean Atkin works as a poet, writer and educator, and is currently Poet in Residence for Wenlock Poetry Festival. Jean Atkin’s poetry has appeared in The North, Earthlines, Envoi, The Moth, Under The Radar, Bare Fiction, Poetry Ireland Review, Dark Mountain, New Writing Scotland, Pushing Out The Boat, Northwords Now, Acumen and others. Winner of many poetry competitions and short-listed for important prizes, Jean also has experience of working as a poet with a wide range of school and community projects, and has published collections of her poetry.
Jean began the workshop "What makes a winning poem" by asking the group to compare and contrast several edits of two of her own poems, both quite different, looking at how each draft improved the poem and engaged the reader. There was lots of input from the group, and this was followed by a short writing exercise with each writer given a line or two from a poem to develop. It was amazing how much the group created in just 10 minutes or so, and how each person approached their piece of work from a different angle. After a mini read around of the poems, Jean gave time to each and every member of the group to look at individual poems being developed, and critique. Each member had brought a poem with them which they were trying to "finish" - but as all writers know, poems are never finished! - or which they had unsuccessfully entered into a competition. PHEW! Jean gave so much to our group and it would have been great to have even longer to work with this renowned poet, but there is never enough time. Many, many thanks to Jean and Poetry on Loan. Please have a look at Jean's web-site and blog jeanatkin.com
A change is as good as a rest, so to give our budding (and established) fiction writers a chance, we had a Spring Competition for Flash Fiction. I am embarrassed to say that this is the second time this year I have won the competition, in an anonymous entry system judged by Emma George from Hanley Library. The beautiful picture here is of Reykjavic, capital of Iceland, the inspiration for my short story "66° North". This story and a selection of the rest of the entries can be found on the Members Monthly Poems Page.